How do you think?

IMG_0886Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society.  When you trap people in a system of debt they can’t afford the time to think.  Tuition fee increases are a disciplinary technique, and by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the disciplinarian culture.  This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy. 

-Norm Chomsky

This quote stopped me cold.  It is just as relevant years after college as it is right after, and it applies to our work and financial lives years after college.  It makes me really ponder the influence of debt, or high expenses on how we think, how we live.

I am very fortunate by birth and family background that I do not have debt and can work in nonprofit organizations.  Every day I am struck by my upside-down job (unusual by most standards) and my great fortune to hike in the Rocky Mountains and hear my own thoughts.  I know lovely people who work in the healing arts, in nonprofits, and in carpentry who look wryly at the consumer economy, whether through circumstance or choice.  Though our income is limited, there is enough to live on and room for commerce of minds, hearts, and hands.  Energized with meaning, connection, and work to be done, these folks do not worry much about money.

My own job involves working with people who are visually impaired.  I do a lot of outreach and education, helping the motivated learn assistive technologies and cane travel.  At my center I also teach yoga for people with disabilities, develop communication materials, assist the director, troubleshoot computer problems, and handle a myriad of other tasks from taking out the recycling to setting up for events.

I encounter people from all walks of life.  An Iraq-war vet from the Louisiana bayou who is psychic.  Kids who are developmentally disabled and help out in our office once a week.  University students studying human services or special education who visit or intern.  People who have had strokes or heart attacks or who deal with multiple sclerosis.  People who have experienced healing and people who have not.  Liars and saints and people changing through community.

Here again I see provision for needs, whether it be through laws, food banks, Habitat for Humanity, grants, donations, volunteer services.  Yes frustrations, limitations, and inefficiency are present, but I also see people working together in advocacy groups, wellness classes, yoga.  And I see organizations collaborating, a willingness to find help and resources for folks in need.  There is less bureaucracy, less ego, less time spent posturing than there might be in other settings.

Most importantly, I see people change.  Coming to this community, an individual becomes less reliant on doctors, medications, social services, family members.  As they learn about managing their finances or health, find ways to work even if volunteering, and take part in activities, they begin to feel better and they develop a different conception of themselves.  They make do with the resources they have, make more connection, work, play, and laugh.  Whether they struggle with a mental illness or physical disability or chronic illness, they can begin to relate to the world as Mary or as Jim, rather than patient or client.

I see parallels with this model of support in my community of healers and freelancers.  We work together on solutions or simply share ideas.  We barter, simplify, grow food, start business and meetup groups.  We find ways to get what we need and to contribute.

It is when we get taken in by debt or fear (this happens to me fairly often) or “The System” that we cannot think.  We think we cannot afford to question, or to seek out better ways of doing things, and we do not have enough time to connect with others to develop our thoughts or find encouragement for our ability to effect change.  We are not as receptive to the beauty and possibility around us.

Chomsky’s words remind me of a poem that has been circling through my mind since college.  The poem surfaces to my consciousness at odd times, stopping and refocusing me, in the way I assume that voices speak to others imparting wisdom or pointing toward a new direction.

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

If we are feeling subject to a disciplinary culture, as Chomsky says, we are more concerned about obedience to an economy that some of us think is destructive.  I think we are here to live this life.  To feel our bodies, to move with joy, to engage with our hearts, to use our minds to create art, bridges, healing practices, good food, and communities.  It seems that we as humans won’t survive if the system continues as is, so we may as well take a leap and try some brand new things.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. A very thoughtful column.

    Reply
  2. I do think consumerism is at least in part at fault for the soulless culture. And I do think the creative thinking required for true art is marginalized, while freakishness takes its place at the center. My problem is that there has never been a system better than minimally restrained capitalism for promoting at least rising prosperity across the board. Utopia is not going to be built here, so we can only do the best we can, and that is it until something better is worked out. And history is littered with things that are worse.

    Reply
    • I agree with you on the economic model, and I don’t know any better either. Guess I just want to start a dialogue, so we can all think about the assumptions that control us and find a bit more creativity!

      Reply
      • Indeed. Part of the problem may be that most people are perfectly conformed without any idea that they are. If you can convince people that other people like something, then it is art. It needs no soul, no purpose, no meaning.

        Now don’t mistake me for a overly compassionate soul :), I think most of what is called art today has at its core either nihilism or consumerism. Anything an over-aged hippy scrawls onto a canvas is not art. Nor either is anything Walmart can reproduce in China to clear a particular profit margin. But room has to me made in society for creativity for certain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Teen Talking Circles

Interviews with Ingenious Solutionists

Ensight Skills Center

Colorado Low-Vision Service and Care

A Woman's Way of Knowing

Interbeing, work, health, nature

Thanissara

Dharma & Climate Action

Holistic Yoga School and Studio

Holistic Yoga School and Studio

Theodore Richards – 2019

Can we bring our selves to our work?

Hundredgivers

Accelerating Sustainable Communities

Transforming Money

Can we bring our selves to our work?

THE ONENESS of HUMANITY

Earth | Peace | Truth | 2019

home, garden, life

home, garden, life ~ sharing a sustainable lifestyle

body divine yoga

unlock your kundalini power, ignite your third eye, awaken your inner oracle

Brain Pickings

An inventory of the meaningful life.

Louisiana Dreamer ~ Embodiment of Courageous Wild Creative Freedom

Musings and meanderings of writer/artist Linda Hubbard Lalande on art, culture, social media, spirituality, yoga, life

epilepsy me and neurology

complimentary wellness and epilepsy experiences

%d bloggers like this: